Blog Post

Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring Digital Advertising Companies

November 19, 2020 - Sierra Ducey

Digital advertising – and programmatic advertising specifically – has continued to account for a large portion of companies’ media budgets. In 2021, programmatic digital display advertising is projected to reach just under $80 billion in the US. With these growing investments in the industry, companies are more frequently looking to external partners to own the strategy, buying, and optimization of their digital media campaigns. Relying on digital advertising companies, not only frees up the company’s resources internally but also opens up the door to a team of digital media buying experts who understand the ins and outs of a complex and ever-changing industry.

However, there is no shortage of digital advertising companies in the US (and world), and deciphering which company will best fit your companies needs can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Whether you’re at the beginning stages of researching digital advertising partners or you’ve narrowed your list down and have started to more thoroughly vet a few contenders – it can be tricky trying to decide which company is the best fit for your company’s goals. To help you get started, we’ve outlined 10 important questions to ask before hiring digital advertising companies.

10 Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring Digital Advertising Companies

1. How do you classify yourself? 

As mentioned above, the world of digital advertising is constantly changing and so too are how companies define themselves. Understanding how a company classifies themselves (and their offerings) will ensure that you are partnering with a company that can accomplish – and hopefully exceed – your goals. Is the company a DSP? A trading desk? Management company? Platform company? Or something else? 

2. Do you have access to PMP and/or Open Exchanges?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, but knowing which the company has access to will give you an idea of where your media will be placed. PMPs (private marketplaces) give you greater control over where your media is being placed whereas open exchanges offer great scale.

3. What DSP do you use? 

This question would obviously be duplicative if the answer to question one is that they are a DSP. However, if the company is not a DSP, it’s important to know which platforms your campaign will be run on.  Companies like Forrester Wave, Digiday, and Gartner release lists of top DSPs based on a variety of factors. These are helpful resources to ensure the digital advertising company utilizes industry-leading DSPs.

4. What cross-device technology do you implement?

This question might seem niche to ask up-front, however, if you plan on running ads across mobile, desktop, and/or other channels, it’s not a question to overlook. Consumers no longer stick to one device – they’re browsing on their laptop, with social media open on their phone and music streaming in the background. As of 2018, the average consumer owns 3.2 connected devices. To ensure media budgets are spent effectively, you will want to ensure the company you choose has technology in place that allows for frequency capping across devices. 

5. What data providers do you have access to?

Knowing which data providers digital advertising companies have access to will give you insight into which audience segments and profiles they will use to access your consumers. Knowing this upfront will ensure that you are using a partner that will actually reach your audience. If you’ve been in conversation with a digital advertising company and their answer to this question is that they prioritize healthcare-related data partners, that might be a red flag if you are a CPG company. 

6. What brand safety measure do you implement in your campaigns?

Brand safety is a top concern among many brands (read more about how to combat brand safety concerns here). Digital advertising companies should have clear tactics and technologies in place to eliminate concerns about where your content will be placed. Whether it is solely PMP deals or creating custom block-lists, there are a variety of options companies can administer in order to ensure your brand remains safe. There isn’t an exact answer you should be looking for here, regarding which technologies they have in place, it is just essential that they have a clear answer for you.  

7. Do you offer creative services?

As mentioned previously, consumers use a variety of devices at any given time. Not only is it important to have frequency capping across these devices, but it is also helpful if your digital advertising company has access to reformat, design, and even create ads that can be used in these different ad placements. 

Weighing the importance of this answer is up to your discretion, as this might be something you can quickly handle in-house. But, it is helpful to know upfront that your digital advertising partner can also offer creative services either in a pinch or all the time. 

8. What is your optimization process? Automatic or managed by people?

AI and machine learning have been a hot topic in the industry for a few years now. Some digital advertising companies have leaned into this technology more than others. Those who have stayed away from this automated technology will rely on people managing your daily bid process. 

Similar to creative offerings, the importance of automated vs. human-led optimization should align with your companies values and preferences.  

9. What level of transparency do you provide in reporting?

Since the early stages of digital advertising, ad tech companies have had a pretty long leash, working pretty much autonomously. In more recent years, brands have started to hold digital advertising companies accountable, demanding greater transparency as to where their budgets are being spent. Digital advertising companies should be giving you a holistic view of your campaigns throughout the entire customer journey. 

10. What are your fees and how are they calculated? 

All digital advertising companies have different ways of calculating fees: percentage-based, standard rate, etc. This, again, is a subject of choosing a digital advertising partner that is up to your discretion – or the determining factor when comparing different companies. It is, however, important to know how the company you’re going to partner with calculates and charges their fees. 

Tying it all together: Picking a Digital Advertising Company

As mentioned previously, for most companies, digital media budgets are rapidly growing. Companies that are choosing to invest these budgets through digital media companies to organize, manage, and optimize their digital advertising campaigns need to ensure that the money is being spent efficiently. However, whether your digital media spend is in the millions of dollars or thousands of dollars, the digital advertising company you choose to partner with should align with and work their best to achieve your company’s goals. 

Digital advertising companies aren’t perfect, there might be aspects that don’t one hundred percent align with what you are looking for from a partner. As you’re getting started with this process, make a “must-have” list of things you want from a digital advertising company. Prioritize these things and ultimately use them to guide your decision. Although the digital advertising company you choose might not be perfect, it should perfectly fit your must-have list.

And, a good rule of thumb to always keep in mind as you ask these questions: if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. 

Digilant is Different than Other Digital Advertising Companies

Digilant is a platform-agnostic, omnichannel marketing partner. We partner with agencies and brands to bring online marketing services that make the success of all things digital possible. All our clients work with our team of planning and insights experts who incorporate data from 100+ partners. With these data partnerships, we create a thorough plan that will work as a roadmap throughout campaigns. 

Once your campaign is ready to go live, we implement your brand safety toolkit – which ranges from high safety measures such as exclusively PMP deals to the standard toolkit including an always-on blocklist. We combine the power of technology with the unmatched personalization and expertise of the human touch. Our team of digital campaign experts consistently works to optimize campaigns, in real-time. 

As campaigns are running, we offer real-time reporting and measurement that is 100% transparent. We understand the importance of a holistic view of campaigns, throughout the entire customer journey, across all devices.  

We also understand there’s more you’re thinking about as you’re researching where to invest your media budgets: your budget. That is why we have created 3 different models of service: full-service, managed service, and self-service. We understand that your media needs may change, so we have service models to adapt to these changes, without missing a beat in your campaign. As you continue researching digital advertising companies

Digilant is eager to show you how our winning client service can help maximize your digital media budgets in 2021. Let’s talk.

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